Nelson Vurb goes five rounds with Steven Page

Former member of The Barenaked Ladies Steven Page takes the stage at The Capitol Theatre in Nelson on Sunday night. - Submitted
Former member of The Barenaked Ladies Steven Page takes the stage at The Capitol Theatre in Nelson on Sunday night.
— image credit: Submitted

Former Barenaked Ladie Steven Page is playing The Capitol Theatre in Nelson on Sunday night. Before he takes the stage {vurb} editor Megan Cole caught up with him to ask five questions:

1. What was the first concert you remember seeing and was it influential?

The first concert I remember seeing was when my parents took me to see Harry Chapin – the folk singer – at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto. Although I know they took me to other folk shows before that. I think it was influential because he was a great performer and a storyteller. As well as being a singer-songwriter he would tell hilarious or touching stories between songs. I think that really did shape what I wanted to do. Later when I realized I wanted to be a musician I would see other bands and other acts. As a teenager I went to see Billy Bragg and the way he related to the crowd, I thought if I ever did this that’s how I would want to be. You learn from the people you see and later the acts that I toured with I learned from as well.

2. Was there a moment that stands out as being the turning point of when you decided to become a musician?

My dad always talks about when I was in Grade 2 and was in the chorus in the production of The Wizard of Oz at school. He said he watched my face and my presence on stage turn into someone that he didn’t recognize — all of a sudden this confidence and this love of performance that he hadn’t seen previously; I was a very shy kid. I wasn’t as aware of that. I sang in choirs and so on throughout high school and university, but when I was a teenager and went to see the Violent Femmes I thought, “that’s what I want to do.” That was the moment for me and probably from then on it was always kind of my dream. I don’t know if I always knew I was capable of it but that was always the touchstone for me.

3. What was it like when you first had the chance to get up on stage with the Barenaked Ladies? Do you remember that day?

Absolutely. Ed [Robertson] and I had been working together at a summer music camp and so we had sung together there for the campers and got a real charge out of it. But our first real show was at a fundraiser at Toronto City Hall. It was a free outdoor thing on Saturday afternoon. We went up to sing and it was a battle of the bands and I guess his old band was supposed to be in it and they had broken up. He said “What if my friend Steve and I come down and sing a couple songs? We won’t compete — we’ll just sing between the different acts.” We had almost nothing prepared and we went up and people loved us, which we didn’t expect. The prize of this battle of the bands was to open for a Toronto band called the Razor Backs, which was this rockabilly band that was pretty popular at the time. They gave us the opening spot. Even though we weren’t really in the competition we still actually won.

4. Was there anything that surprised you about the experience of being in the Barenaked Ladies and the success you had?

We were focused on making the best music we could and moving forward. And moving forward sometimes the biggest problem is you’re not looking around you, you’re looking at the horizon, which is where you’re trying to go. Sometimes what are the most bizarre moments – moments where you’re thrust into situations with “actual” celebrities or those kinds of things – you don’t always take a second to go “what the heck am I doing here?” Sometimes it takes a bit of distance to look back and go, “We still felt like kids in our parents’ basements thrust into sitting in the Grammys or whatever else”. In the meantime it was 10 years of hard work in between those two things.

5. For people that know you from the Barenaked Ladies what can they expect from you on your own?

Same guy, probably a little bit more grey hair and an acoustic guitar. The show’s probably going to be about half Barenaked Ladies songs so there is going to be lots of stuff that they know. There will also be a bunch of stuff from my solo records and we’ll be doing some of Craig Northey’s songs from The Odds as well.


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